Highly-rated British driver Oliver Bearman has joined the Ferrari Driver Academy, after becoming the first driver in history to win both the ADAC and Italian F4 championships in the same season.
In his second year out of karting, Bearman announced a three-pronged approach to his first single-seater season, splitting his time between a sophomore campaign in ADAC F4 and Italian F4, now with Van Amersfoort Racing, and the GB3 Championship (née British F3).
Van Amersfoort are one of the best outfits on both grids in Europe, having helped Mexico City Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen and Ferrari junior Mick Schumacher to Formula One.
GB3 was only able to enjoy Bearman’s talents for nine races, but the 16-year-old showed enough to bring home a win and four podiums with Fortec Motorsport.
On the continent, things went even better, taking the ADAC and Italian F4 titles with 17 wins ahead of Tim Tramnitz. Red Bull Junior Programme driver Jonny Edgar took the spoils in Germany in 2020, competing in FIA F3 this season with Carlin Buzz Racing.
His unprecedented success yielded recognition from all quarters of the junior single-seater pyramid, with Bearman named a finalist for the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award alongside Edgar, Louis Foster and 2021 GB3 champion Zak O’Sullivan.
Perhaps fuelled in part by his success in Italy, he drew the attention of the fabled Ferrari Driver Academy. After reaching the FDA Scouting World Finals in Maranello, he triumphed along with Brazilian Rafael Chaves Camara.
The Academy has nurtured some of the most illustrious names in single-seater racing since its inception in 2009. Borne out of the Scuderia’s development of Camara’s compatriot Felipe Massa in the 2000s, drivers such as the late Jules Bianchi, Mirko Bortolotti, Raffaele Marciello, Callum Ilott, Mick Schumacher, Lance Stroll and two-time Formula One race-winner Charles Leclerc have come through the doors.
Indeed, The Race are reporting that Ferrari have signed their next Leclerc, also comparing Bearman’s FIA F3 prospects to those of 2020 runner-up Theo Pourchaire, who won the 2019 ADAC F4 Championship at the first time of asking.
Bearman tested with 2020 F3 Teams’ Champions Prema Racing in Valencia on 1-3 November, setting the seventh-fastest overall time against more experienced drivers. That performance prompted rumours he might drive for the team next season, taking the departing champion Dennis Hauger‘s seat.
Upon being announced as one of the Scuderia’s latest prospects, Bearman said “I’m really happy to have been selected to join the Ferrari Driver Academy.
“It is a great way to end what has been a really good racing season for me. Just spending a week in Maranello was an amazing experience, especially getting to drive at Fiorano.
“Now I can’t wait to start working at the Academy, to be part of the Ferrari family and to see what the future holds for me.”
Head of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Marco Matassa was equally glowing in his praise of the Chelmsford driver.
“During the days spent at Manaello and Fiorano, Bearman showed all the aptitude he so clearly demonstrated during his Formula 4 season,” he said.
“Apart from his basic speed, he has other important qualities, such as the ability to give good feedback to the engineers, as well as understanding in which areas he can improve, while putting into practice what he was told to do before going out on track for the first time.”